five healthy things to do every day

Is there such thing as a food hangover?  I’m pretty sure there is. I’m also pretty sure that I woke up with one yesterday morning.  If Irn Bru is the manna which cures an alcohol hangover, then I have the food hangover cure.  And these don’t just help with the hangover, these are five healthy things you can do every day.  Even if you’re feeling like you’ve fallen off the wagon, doing these five things can make you feel a little more positive.

 

five healthy things to do every day

a heavy weekend

I’ve written before about how weekends are a bit of a weight loss pitfall for me.  As soon as Saturday (ok, sometimes Friday night) rolls around, the reins come off.  It’s like a switch goes off in my head and I don’t even remember that I’m meant to be making healthy choices.

Since I really started knuckling down in my efforts to improve my diet, I’ve managed to kerb my weekends a little.  Particularly in the last few weeks, I’ve indulged a little but still kept within healthy limits.  And the results on the scale have been good.  This weekend though, especially Sunday, things got a little out of control.  Not binge-level cray-cray, but just…ugly.

I don’t want to turn this into a confession booth or anything. But a cheeseburger, prosecco, birthday cake, cheesecake, wine and chocolate biscuits all happened.  I was at a kids’ birthday party, a night out and a family fun day, none of which had healthy options and none of which I prepared for.  Or gave any more thought to other than nomnomnomnom.  I’m fine with it though.  Life happens, and I like to enjoy it when it does.

 

getting back on track

The party has to stop some time though.  A little of what you fancy is good for you, but too much can actually make you feel gross.  I felt sluggish, cranky and basically yuck when the school run dragged me out of bed on Monday morning.  Some of that was down to a broken night of sleep.  After sleeping through for four whole nights, the baby decided that I’d had enough sleep and is back to 4am snack attacks.  But I do think that a lack of nutrients and too much sugar wasn’t helping either.

Instead of writing off the rest of the week, I decided to hit reset.  And it got me thinking about the five healthy things that always make me feel good.  They make me feel as if I’m treating my body right, and get me back in the healthy zone.  And they’re so easy to do.

I also think they made the difference between a bit of overindulgence, and an all out binge.  I’ve battled with binge eating my whole life, and a weekend like this would easily start me off in that direction.  But because doing these five healthy things is now almost second nature, I was able to stop myself falling down that particular rabbit hole.

 

my five healthy things

Starting the day off right

Maybe you eat breakfast, maybe you don’t.  But if the first meal you eat in a day is healthy and balanced, you’re much more likely to keep making good choices.  My morning bowl of porridge sets me up well, and makes me feel a bit smug and virtuous.  And even if the rest of the day doesn’t exactly go to plan, at least one meal will have been healthy – damage limitation, people!

Drinking water

I know, I know, everyone bangs on about this one.  But think about it – dehydration can make you feel lethargic and sluggish.  I don’t know about you, but when I feel that way I just can be bothered making any healthy effort.  I’d rather sit on my arse and reach for quick-hit junk food.

Hydrating gets me out of that slump.  Not only does it boost energy and help clear you out (yeah, I’m talking poo), but it keeps your mind sharp too.  Science says so.  If that isn’t a good reason to get glugging, I don’t know what is.

Getting active

Exercise.  I never really want to do it, but I never regret it when I do.  In fact, I feel a million times worse looking at a low step count at the end of the day than I ever would after working out.  But you don’t need to be killing it in the gym every day.  Walking is so good for you, and most of us can fit it into our day somehow.  I’ve ditched the car for most of the school runs this year. Whilst we may need to leave the house a little earlier, it’s worth it not just for the exercise but the time I get to spend with my middle son.  It actually doesn’t even take that much longer, if you consider what a faff parking can be.

A few workouts and daily walking in your week can make a huge difference.  Not just to your weight loss and body composition, but to your mood.  And if you feel better, you’re more likely to make healthy choices.  It’s a win-win cycle.

Eat your greens

And your reds, and your yellows, whites, oranges, purples…  I try to make sure that every meal has a fruit or vegetable component.  And if there are veggies in a recipe, I’ll still either add more or have veggies on the side too.  They’re yummy, they fill you up and they’re packed full of all the good stuff.  A meal packed with veggies makes you feel as if you’re really treating your body right.  But more than that, adding a chaser of goodness to even the cheatiest of cheat meals can work wonders for your mindset.  It’s hard to feel as guilty about eating a big dirty cheeseburger if you also munch on a salad.  Which leads me to the last of my five healthy things you can do every day…

Be kind to yourself

This is probably the most important of the five healthy things I’ve listed.  If you have had a cheat meal, or even if you’ve had a cheat day…week…month, cut yourself some slack.  Maybe you nail all four of the other healthy things and more besides, or maybe you really don’t.  But either way it is not a reflection of you as a person, just a reflection of where you’re at.

I find the easiest way to be kinder to myself is not to look at what I ate or the workout I skipped, and to instead look at the why.  I ate that cheeseburger this weekend because there were no healthier options, because we didn’t have time to prepare something healthier at home that day, because I didn’t think ahead.  So, I’ll learn from it.  Draw a line under it.  And appreciate the fact that although it wasn’t ideal, I still enjoyed it.

It’s taken me years to separate those things, my food choices from my self.  Even now I still catch myself thinking “I’m a bad person” sometimes, where what I really mean is “that wasn’t the greatest food choice.”  There’s so much guilt around food, and for some of us it gets absorbed as guilt for who we are.  Fuck that.  Shake it off, and show yourself some compassion.

The kinder you are to yourself, the easier it becomes to make healthier choices because putting your health first becomes an act of kindness.

 

healthy foundations

If your day has as many of those five healthy things in it as you can manage, you’re on the right path.  I know that by hydrating, moving, eating my veggies and still making some good choices, I managed to give my body what it needed.  Sure, I may not see a loss on the scales this weekend after my indulgent weekend. But I’m not carrying any baggage about it, because I’m kind enough to myself to be ok with that.

 

 

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motivation for improving my health – kick starting my weight loss

I wrote last week about my plans to lose the baby weight (and then some).  I put on 7lbs in pregnancy and said that I would update weekly until I’d lost that before tackling the rest of my weight loss journey.  This week, I’m trying to find some motivation for improving my health and losing the weight.

motivation for improving my health - kick starting my weight loss

 

weight update

this week’s result

I lost 2lbs, which takes my total to 4lbs.

If I’m honest, I was actually surprised by that result.  After a bit of a mixed week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It hadn’t got off to a great start food-wise, and it was only in the second half that I started being more mindful.  I think what saved me was upping my activity levels.  I’ve started a Zumba class, and I’ve been walking over 5 miles a day on the school run.  At 9 weeks postnatal, that’s the most active I’ve been in quite a while!

moving forward

I’ve been flip-flopping on these 2lbs for the past four weeks though, and this week has again got off to a rubbish start food-wise.  A cake sale at the school, a choice of burger or hot dog when out on Saturday, a curry and a big Sunday dinner have all gone under my belt already!  I’ll not be surprised if I see that 2lb back on again.

 

i need motivation

For some reason I’m struggling to find motivation for improving my health.  I’m getting frustrated with myself.  I really want to start seeing evidence of fat loss but I’m not motivated to put the effort in.  Especially with food.  I know the healthy choices I need to make, but somehow I just can’t be bothered.

Sure I want to be slimmer and more toned, but that want isn’t strong enough to light a fire under me.  It pales in comparison with the want to veg on the sofa with a bar of Dairy Milk right now.  I need to find a stronger motivator than just what I look like.

 

finding motivation for improving my health

People often say they want to be healthy so that they can live longer or be around for their kids.  And those are great reasons to aim for better health.  But as a motivator for right now, those reasons are too out there for me.  They seem too far away to really get me focused.

I need to look at the here and now.  What changes to I want to see this time next week or next month?  What does better health look like to me in the short term?  Two things come to mind – feeling more comfortable with daily activity, and improving my mood.

 

not letting sweat get in the way

Activity is the area I’m doing best in right now, but I’m a long way from my fittest.  That means I’m finding daily activity a bit tougher, and not working out at the level I want to.

The school run is on a hill, so by the time I get home I’m a sweaty puddle.  I cannot stand the feeling of being sticky and damp.  I know there are a lot of things that contribute to my hot mess-ness, like the temperature and what I’m wearing.  But carrying extra weight contributes to sweating, so losing weight and not having to work so hard to get up the hill can but help.  The thought of feeling a bit more comfortable with daily activity is motivation for improving my health.

When it comes to exercise though, I know it’s unrealistic to expect not to break a sweat.  Especially when in any given fitness class I am always the sweatiest in the room.  I like to work at the top end of my ability and tend to really go for it. When I’m fit I don’t really mind people seeing me all red and shiny, because I’m proud of putting in the effort.  But when I’m soaked and puce even from the warm up, I feel really self conscious.  I’ve noticed in my Zumba class that I don’t go quite as hard as I could, because I’m embarrassed at looking so unfit.  I know it shouldn’t matter, but for me it does.  So improving my health will help me enjoy exercise more, and to get more from it.

 

improving my mental health

In order to get the weight loss that’s going to help me get more from my activity, I have to start eating better.

With being up each night with a young baby, not to mention all the effort it takes to keep him and the rest of the family alive each day, I’m knackered.  When I’m knackered I feel stressed, angry and down.  That just leaves me feeling awful, and triggers a mental health slump.  My motivation to get anything done disappears and then I end up feeling even worse because not only am I tired but the mountain of stuff I have to do is looming over me in piles.

Eating crap is not going to help any of that.  It’s not going to fill me up and it’s not going to give me energy.  It just makes me feel worse because I’m either starving or drained. When I feel bad I turn to food, which will make me feel even worse…lather, rinse, repeat.  I need to focus on the fact that I do enjoy healthy food and I do feel good when I nourish my body.  Improving my diet is going to boost my mood because I’ll feel productive and energised, and that is great motivation for improving my health.

 

so what now?

My plan of action is to keep up the level of activity I’m doing and to really examine my diet.  Hopefully together they’ll start to help the weight come off, make me feel more positive and help me feel more comfortable when I’m exercising.

Diet-wise, I’m considering stripping it right back.  Just focusing on nutrients and not being too concerned with counting calories or Syns or points just now.  Maybe if I start feeling better by eating better, I’ll be more motivated to then knuckle down with trying to stay within a certain allowance to try and get some weight loss happening.

 

I’d love to hear what inspires you to improve your health or motivates you to lose weight – what keeps you going?

 

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weight loss pitfalls

Weight loss pitfalls, boy have I got a few.

You know the things – you’re coasting along quite well, making good choices, staying within your limits, aiming for a weight loss this week…and then *boom* you fall down a massive hole that opened up beneath your feet.  It could be that blind spot after weigh-in, or a meal in a restaurant, or meeting a friend for coffee.  Maybe you see it coming or maybe you don’t, but it has the power to sink your efforts for the day, the week or even longer.

For me, the main pitfall is those two days at the end of the week.  Those two days at the end of every week.  That’s a pretty big and pretty regular weight loss pitfall.

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